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Proxies, Gateways and Meshes: Cloud Connectivity for Apache Kafka® Developers

Viktor Gamov, Developer Advocate, Kong

API gateway technology has evolved a lot in the past decade, capturing more prominent and more comprehensive use cases in what the industry calls “full lifecycle API management.”

API gateways were just the management of the network runtime that allows us to expose and consume the APIs (RESTful or not) as well as secures and governs our API traffic. However, today they provide a series of functionalities to support the complete development cycle, including creation, testing, documentation, monitoring, event monetization, monitoring and overall exposure of our APIs.

Then around 2017, another pattern emerged from the industry: service mesh! Service Mesh is an infrastructure layer for microservices communication. It abstracts the underlying network details and provides discovery, routing and a variety of other functionalities. Many attempted to describe the differences between gateways and service meshes, e.g., API gateways are for north-south traffic and service meshes for east-west traffic.

I want to illustrate the differences between API gateways and service mesh — and when to use one or the other pragmatically and objectively. In this talk, I will also discuss the similarities and differences between the communication layer provided by gateways, service mesh and Apache Kafka. Finally, you will learn a few ways to use Apache Kafka within a service mesh architecture.